Through a mutual connection, I was able to obtain the contact information for the President of the Board of Regents for the University of Minnesota, who served on the small hiring team that selected P.J. Fleck as their new football coach. Coach Fleck was previously the head football coach at my alma mater, Western Michigan University.
Here is a copy of my letter:
I am a 2004 graduate of Western Michigan University and an extremely dedicated and loyal sports fan; in fact, I believe my alliances have only grown while I have moved to North Carolina, which occurred less than a month after my graduation.
You have absolutely hit a home run with the hiring of Coach PJ Fleck. I have followed Coach Fleck very closely for more reasons than simply his leading of my alma mater. When Coach Fleck was hired at WMU, he was the youngest FBS Coach in the nation. When I became a high school principal at age 33, without any type of official record, I believe I was one of the youngest in the state of North Carolina. Therefore, I immediately began following him closely, well-before WMU Football began reaching the recent success (I can claim being a fan during the 1-11 season when many were not on the "Row the Boat" bandwagon.)
Throughout this football season, Coach Fleck's leadership of the WMU Football program has singlehandedly impacted an Alumni base in an tremendous fashion. WMU's brand is stronger and more prominent than ever before. From time to time, I watch the opening minutes from ESPN's College Gameday's visit to Kalamazoo on my DVR and I get chills...every single time. The academic achievements of our football program hit an unprecedented levels, as well, which should be recognized as much as our on-the-field accomplishments.
Recently, through the Alumni Association and Office of Alumni Relations, I served as the Alumni Liaison for a Cotton Bowl Watch Party in Charlotte. Without having any idea who would attend, I was blown away by not only the attendance, but the passion and pride shared by graduates, ranging from 1990 to 2016 (we actually had a recent graduate in attendance who had moved to NC the previous week).
I found myself watching the Univ. of Minnesota introductory press conference last night and was almost saddened to hear Coach Fleck speak so genuinely and passionately, with it not being regarding WMU anymore. At the same time, my alma mater has nothing but gratitude and appreciation for what Coach Fleck has done for WMU over the past four years.
Congratulations on the hiring of Coach Fleck. I know there are currently some unique challenges that he will be facing at your institution. He is the right man for the job and a fantastic hire. I wish you the best of luck and will continue to be a huge Coach Fleck fan, and therefore, wish Minnesota Football much success. I do hope to see the Little Brown Jug remain in Ann Arbor, but I hope that desire doesn't diminish the sincere sentiment of my letter.
Yours in education,
Craig S. Smith
Western Michigan University
Class of 2004